This morning, I awoke to cheerful exclamations of “Santa Claus is coming TONIGHT!!!”
This year is the first Christmas that has invoked true wonder and excitement in our children. From anticipating Santa’s midnight visit to celebrating Jesus’ birthday with our gifts to each other, the kids have a gleam in their eyes that draws all of us adults into high spirits. It makes me recall those few magical moments in childhood when I became so caught up in the beauty of the Christmas lights, the harmonious swell of the Christmas carols, and the fascination of Jesus’ birth. When awestruck wonder transcended the reality of the moment, and the emotion was so intense I couldn’t determine whether it was extreme delight or pain.
As an adult, those moments of joy (as C. S. Lewis names them) come fewer and farther between. Maybe it’s because we have so many distractions and responsibilities. Maybe our expectations have become tainted by past disappointments. Maybe we feel weighed down with emotional, physical, or financial burdens.
Christmas hasn’t always been an overwhelmingly joyous occasion for me. Years ago, when Scott and I were broken up over the holidays, I moped and pouted while listening to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” on repeat. For weeks straight!
Two years ago, while visiting my parents here in North Carolina, I spent Christmas Eve in the Cary ER with a sprained ankle. And I fought back tears throughout the whole trip because Carter was going through a phase when he wanted nothing to do with me and wouldn’t even let me walk into the room where he and Daddy were playing. It was probably my most difficult Christmas holiday to date.
This Christmas, there are people around the world who are enduring tough moments. In just the last day, I’ve learned of a critically ill 3-year-old girl who is hanging onto life by a thread. And a woman my age who lost her husband Thursday night to an 11-year cancer battle, left with their 2-year-old son and a baby due in February. I have a friend who miscarried months ago, and their due date of December 26th looms without assurance of another baby to come.
With these weighty situations on my heart, I clicked on BabyCenter.com’s calendar of pregnancy milestones. Each Saturday, I move into the next week and read of new progress that my lil’ bean is making. Today, the site says this: “Your baby sees light.”
Though his/her eyes are still fused shut, our baby can sense light and may even move if a flashlight is shown at my belly. Physically and biologically, this milestone seems amazing. But the spiritual significance struck my aching heart even stronger. How incredible and appropriate that this baby should sense light today…the eve of a miraculous birth when the Light of the World came to earth to dwell among us.
It was this reminder of Jesus’ light that brought me encouragement this morning. Not just for myself, but for each person who feels trapped in darkness this Christmas. Whether you’re mourning loss of life, your marriage, your plans, etc., there is a Light that will illuminate your next step. He may not reveal your whole path, but He will guide you that next step further. And it’s usually that next and immediate step that seems so paralyzing.
I supposed what I wanted to share this morning is that we can become numb and blind to the wonder and light of Christmas. We can miss it as much in our bliss as in our pain. And some individuals are hurting so much that a celebration seems almost unbearable. On this Christmas Eve, I’m praying that as we meditate on the most perfect Gift ever given, our minds will be illuminated with insight and emotion that transcends our current distractions or troubles and transports us to that magical place where we can experience true joy.
“Silent night, Holy night!
Son of God, Love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord at thy birth;
Jesus, Lord at thy birth.”
God bless and Merry Christmas,